Cohesity hires VMware veteran Sanjay Punen as CEO

Sanjay Punen, former COO, VMware

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Cohesity, a startup that sells enterprise data backup software, said on Tuesday it had hired a former VMware COO Sanjay Punen will be its next CEO as the company challenges actors like Dell and is heading for a possible IPO.

Punen told CNBC that he received a call from Cohesity founder Mohit Aron telling him that he plans to step down as CEO after nine years at the company, but wants to stay to work on technology and engineering. Punen has largely stayed on the sidelines since leaving VMware in 2021 after an eight-year hiatus.

He joins Cohesity at a time when demand for advanced backup systems is skyrocketing as companies face exponential growth in the size and complexity of their data. It is also a challenging period as the economy approaches potential recession and many businesses are cutting costs. The unity that was valued at $2.5 billion in the 2020 funding round, confidentially filed for an IPO late last year when the technology market was in tears.

In 2022, the mood has changed dramatically and the market sell-off has resulted in much lower multiples for software makers, both private and public.

“Being the new CEO, you don’t want to be in a bad situation,” Poonen said. “This is a great time to join because there are only positives in the future.”

He said there is no specific timetable for the sale of shares in the company, which has more than 2,100 employees.

“No one knows the time,” he said. “We are following this closely. Everyone is in the same boat judging the right time.”

In the market Cohesity, Dell, IBM and Veritas are the main actors. But there are also a number of new companies created for the cloud era. In addition to Cohesion, this group includes Druva and Rubrik.

Punen said he wants to see cloud partners like Amazon Web Services is directing their vendors to implement Cohesity in more organizations. If customers want to backup data from Microsoft, JUICE or sales department software in the clouds other than Amazon, they can do it with Cohesity, Punen said.

“The profile of this company was not at the highest level in the media because they didn’t know much about it,” Punen said. “Being here brings a lot more information to this company.”

Cohesity attracted large investors, including Amazon, Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Sequoia Capital. When Amazon bought a stake in Cohesity last year, Poonen said, the approval came from Andy Jassi, who replaced Jeff Bezos as CEO of the e-commerce and cloud computing giant in July 2021.

During Punen’s time at VMware, he spoke at the virtualization software maker’s annual conferences and led sales, marketing, and other functions. He said he seeks to attract customers by prioritizing customer success and building relationships with cloud service providers and other partners, rather than simply inflating the company’s marketing budget.

WATCH: Companies should plan ahead and prepare for the worst, says Sanjay Punen.